I have never been the biggest Saint Etienne fan. I do have the first three albums and I do like them. Especially the album So Tough and the song Hobart Paving. Still as a band, it has never been that important to me. However, Bob Stanley as a compiler, writer and a music fan has been very important to me personally. He certainly is one of the most influential pop guides I’ve ever had. Everything I know about pop music I’ve learned from folks like Miettinen, Jukka Väänänen, Duglas T. Stewart, El Nino and Bob Stanley. Last year Bob Stanley released a new book, Yeah Yeah Yeah – The Story of Modern Pop. About 800 pages of pop music history written by Bob Stanley. Sounds like a real treat. I finally bought my copy this summer and thought I will spend the next month or two or three exploring the world of pop music with Bob Stanley as my guide. I’ve only just begun and have red just a couple of chapters. I look forward to digging deeper into it.
I also have a bunch of great soundtrack CDs for the reading sessions. Like I said Bob Stanley might well be my favourite CD compiler. Too bad I didn’t know that 10 years ago, because these days it’s rather possible find some of the compilations he has done for reasonable price. I would especially love to get my hands on that Tea & Symphony – The English Baroque Sound of 1967-1974 CD. And not forgetting those Dream Babes volumes he did. I fully recommend those Saint Etienne Presents compilations that are all wonderful. Last year Bob Stanley also started his own reissue label Croydon Municipal and have already released several gorgeous compilations. I picked up these three this summer.
The latest Croydon Municipal release is this excellent Buttermilk Skies – The Hoagy Carmichael Songbook compilation. It’s the first in this new Songbook series. So hopefully Bob compiles more of these sometime soon, because this is the one I love the most. Hoagy Carmichael was an American composer, pianist and actor who composed a lot of great songs especially in the 20s, 30s and 40s. There’s plenty of classics I already knew, but also a lot of fantastic songs that I’ve never heard. Compilations like these are so useful, if you want to get to know some classic composers/songwriters. I still have huge holes in my music education. This one filled a really big one. I really would like to have the money to also get all the songwriter series that Ace Records have done. Unfortunately I don’t. I just need to hand pick the ones that seem the most interesting. I look forward to other volumes in the Croydon Municipal songbook series.
Then we have Mid Century Minx – Female vocal seduction from the fifties and sixties. I’m very much into this kind of music as well. Especially when someone I trust does the hard work and finds those real jewels from the forest. I really don’t have enough knowledge to start entering into this jungle by myself. However, it’s a real treat to listen to a fine compilation that contains wonderfully smooth vocal performances from such great female vocalists like Jo Stafford, Irene Kral, Anita O’Day. Perfect music for lazy sunday morning. Whenever I listen to these I think how great would it be to be a DJ in a small cafe and play songs like these all day long.
And last but not least a Sweet’n’Salty Popcorn compilation. I’m very much into this Belgium popcorn thing at the moment. Last year when I really get into it, it was damn difficult to find good compilations for decent price. Those Lady Luck CDs El Nino did had some great ones, but that was about it. Therefore I’m thrilled that Bob Stanley is looking into this genre (plus Outta Sight has released a couple as well). I don’t really like the cover that much, but this holds a lot of great music inside. I’m still not totally aware what counts as popcorn and what not, but most of the music that is labeled as popcorn sounds rather marvelous to me. There’s something in that slow tempo and rhythm that really appeals to me. There’s also a new Croydon Municipal compilation Popcorn Girls coming out later this month.